'Infra sector growth marred; has most stressed loans of PSBs'
'Infra sector growth marred; has most stressed loans of PSBs'

New Delhi: The infrastructure sector has remained clogged by bottlenecks so much so that it accounted for one of the highest stressed advances by public sector banks, but a slew of steps are on fast-track its growth, says the Economic Survey.

"Infrastructure, iron & steel, textiles, mining (including coal) and aviation, hold 54 per cent of total stressed advances of PSBs as on June 2014," said the Economic Survey for 2014-15, tabled in Parliament today.

It said exposure of PSBs to infrastructure stood at 17.5 percent of their gross advances and was significantly higher than private sector and foreign banks.

The Survey added however that government's focus was on resolving issues that have marred the sector's growth.

Public-Private-Partnership framework in infrastructure sector needs restructuring to lift financial stress burdening the projects and to revive the interest of the private sector, it suggested.

"In infrastructure, the focus has been on resolving long- pending issues like pricing of gas, establishing processes and procedures for transparent auction of coal and minerals, and improving power generation and distribution," the survey said.

Attempts are also on to attract foreign direct investment in highways, railways and other wings. Besides, the focus is on timely completion of major projects like Dedicated Freight Corridors, it said.

"In the road sector, efforts have been undertaken to resolve problems associated with projects which are yet to be completed and the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. Has been set up for speedy implementation of highway projects in the north-east," the Survey added.

Terming that increased pace of urbanisation poses challenges with respect to providing adequate infrastructure, improving connectivity, and mobilising resources, it said efforts to propel infra growth are on.

It said growth in infrastructure, based on an index of eight core industries including coal, power and cement has improved slightly.

"Of the total 246 central infrastructure projects costing Rs 1,000 crore and above, 124 are delayed with respect to the latest schedule and 24 have reported additional delays vis-?-vis the date of completion," said the Survey.

It also said unfavourable market conditions and delayed investments in last few years resulted in an "alarmingly high rate" of increase in stalled projects which, as of December- end, stood at a staggering Rs 8.8 lakh crore but efforts were on to expedite these.

About the coal sector, it said that the government facilitated coal block auctions besides measures to boost output.--PTI

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